Good use of graduates

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Good use of graduates

The ruling Grand National Party is planning to mobilize university graduates with degrees in art, music and gymnastics who have failed to get formally employed to teach in after-school programs at elementary and middle schools.

Should they teach music, art, basketball, football and taekwondo, the government will provide their schools subsidies between 600,000 won ($422) and 650,000 won to pay each teacher.

The measure is desirable; it can create jobs for college graduates and reduce private education costs for households. If the program turns out to work properly, it will hugely benefit public education.

It is true that Korean public education has neglected developing students’ specialty and aptitude. Even if schools want to invite lecturers from outside, the pool of human resources is so small that they have had a hard time securing sufficient numbers of teachers. Assessing the qualification of teachers has also been difficult.

In this respect, the effort to use those college graduates as after-school teachers can set a crucial starting point for resuscitating extracurricular programs.

Hiring unemployed university graduates is expected to facilitate securing a qualified workforce. Given that, fresh out of college, they are relatively young, they should easily build a good rapport with their students at elementary and middle schools. If the government forms a pool of young after-school teachers and trains them before dispatch, it will be possible to create a more diverse and in-depth syllabus for art, music and gymnastics linked to the formal educational curriculum.

To accomplish these, the government should take a more systematic approach to managing those lecturers. Selecting them should not be left to the individual schools. The education offices in each city and province should research in advance the demand for such teachers in all schools in their jurisdiction and ask universities to recommend students who are qualified. That way, training programs offered by education offices in different areas can help those recruited to adapt to the schools.

Of course, schools will need to monitor the performance of those new lecturers and help them improve their skills. The Grand National Party estimates that hiring 16,000 university graduates in art, music and gymnastics to teach 320,000 students will require a budget of 76.8 billion won ($54.1 million) over an eight-month period.

The budget issue can be resolved if the new scheme is a success, and accordingly schools will be willing to pay in the future.
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